Israeli startup lets insurers, rental agencies inspect cars by AI

Israeli startup Ravin is using artificial intelligence to simplify the car inspection and rental process.

People queue at rental car desks at the international airport in Munich (photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAEL DALDER)
People queue at rental car desks at the international airport in Munich
(photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAEL DALDER)

More than one billion car inspections are done every year by car rental companies and insurance companies. Israeli start-up Ravin wants to simplify that process, using artificial intelligence to allow anyone with a smartphone to be able to file an auto report.

“The problem today is that most of these inspections are done manually by people who are subjectively choosing what to report,” said Ravin CEO Eliron Ekstein. “If you think about a leasing company, when you bring the car back to the dealer, you leave it there, and then it might be a week or two until it gets inspected. And then, you might receive a bill for damages in the mail later. That creates a pretty poor customer experience, and causes a lot of problems in the industry.”

The manual process of auto inspections means that it may take a longer time for companies to return leased cars to the road after being returned. It can also force insurance companies to pay for damage that wasn’t necessary because inspectors are expected to make quick judgments. “We estimate that about $25 per car is left on the table because of subjective calls being made by human inspectors,” Ekstein said.

Ravin’s solution allows users to simply take a video of the car, and upload it to the system, where AI and machine learning can automatically identify the car and assess any damages done. The video can then be uploaded to the company’s system via a webpage, without requiring users to install an app.

“Our platform is able to understand what angle the video is shot at, make sense of what it is seeing, and not only identify a dent on the door, but also provide information as to how to fix it,” Ekstein said. “It allows you to get an estimate on your damages ahead of time before you even return the car.”

Ravin was founded in 2019, and has raised $25 million from investors, including a $15m. Series A completed in March. Its investors include Shell Ventures, the investment arm of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, and auto wholesale platform KAR Global. The company has 30 employees in its headquarters in Haifa, and another 30 spread out in the United States, London, and elsewhere.

Cars (credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)Cars (credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)

When it started, Ravin ran pilot tests using stationary CCTV cameras, working with large car rental companies like the Avis budget group. However, when it developed a system for mobile phone cameras in 2020, the company started to grow quickly. It now works with insurance companies around the world like the KBC group in Belgium, as well as the leasing operations for Lexus and Toyota, among others.

“Our clients can be rental or leasing companies, insurance companies, auction houses, or anyone who manages a fleet for industries,” Ekstein said. “It helps fleets run more smoothly, and gives the tools to non-professionals to make a fair car transaction without requiring third-party experts. I believe there is potential for a billion dollars in revenue per year.”